Court Declares Oil Sector Deregulation Illegal

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A Federal High Court in Abuja, Nigeria, Tuesday, declared the deregulation of the downstream of the oil sector illegal.

Justice M. Bello of the Abuja Division, Court 3 of the Federal High Court gave judgment in the case of Bamidele Aturu vs Minister of Petroleum Resources and the Attorney General of  the Federation today and declared the policy of deregulation as unconstitutional, illegal, null and void.

The court agreed with all arguments and granted all reliefs sought by Aturu.

Aturu had asked for a declaration that the policy decision of the defendants to deregulate the downstream sector of the petroleum industry by not fixing the prices at which petroleum products may be sold in Nigeria is unlawful, illegal, null, void and of no effect whatsoever being in vicious violation of the mandatory provision of section 6 of the Petroleum Act, cap P.10, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

He also prayed the court to declare that the policy decision of the defendants to deregulate the downstream sector of the petroleum industry by not fixing the prices at which petroleum products may be sold in Nigeria is unlawful, illegal, null, void and of no effect whatsoever being in a flagrant violation of the mandatory provision of section 4 of the Price Control Act, cap P28, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

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Aturu further sought a declaration that the policy decision of the defendants to deregulate the downstream sector of the petroleum industry by not fixing the prices at which petroleum products may be sold in Nigeria is unlawful, illegal, null, void and of no effect whatsoever being in conflict with Section 16(1)(b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 which provides that the government shall control the national economy in such manner as to secure the maximum welfare, freedom and happiness of every citizen on the basis of social justice and equality of status and opportunity.

He also asked the court to declare that the policy decision of the defendants, to deregulate the downstream sector of the petroleum industry by not fixing the prices at which petroleum products may be sold in Nigeria has the effect of making the freedom of movement guaranteed in section 41 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 illusory for the Plaintiff and the generality of Nigerians and is therefore illegal, unconscionable and unconstitutional and of no effect whatsoever.

He asked for an order restraining the defendants their agents, privies, collaborators from deregulating the downstream sector of the petroleum industry or from failing to fix the prices of petroleum products as mandatorily required by the Petroleum Act and the Price Control Act.

Aturu also sought for an order directing the defendants to fix and publish regularly prices of petroleum products forthwith.

—Kazeem Ugbodaga